Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel: Justin Verlander Says A’s Had Their Eye On The Tigers With Big Trade

Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel are on their way to sunny Oakland, California, in exchange for Addisson Russell, Dan Straily, prospect Billy McKinny, and an additional prospect yet to be named, according to a CBS Sports report. Justin Verlander – who recently ended a dry spell with a victory against the Oakland Athletics, giving up 2 runs in 6 innings on the way to a 9-3 Tigers victory – has suggested that the Oakland A’s had the Tigers in mind when they picked up Samardzija and Hammel.

According to a Yahoo Sports report, Justin Verlander has said:

“They (the Oakland A’s) made that trade because of us…If they want to win a World Series, they are envisioning that they have to go through us.”

Chances are, Verlander is right. The standings say that the Oakland A’s are the best team in baseball right now with a.616 win percentage, but Oakland’s front office knows that success in the regular season doesn’t always equate to success in the postseason, when your four best starting pitchers are often the deciding factor in who advances and who settles in for the winter early. Picking up Jeff Sarardzija and Jason Hammel has the potential to go a long way towards improving Oakland’s chances in the playoffs, especially if they end up facing the Detroit Tigers and their powerful starting rotation, as Justin Verlander offhandedly predicted.

The move makes sense for the Oakland A’s, giving them the potential of a Scott Kazmir-Sonny Gray-Jason Hammel-Jeff Samardzija rotation come playoff time. Whether they can hang with a deep Tigers rotation that includes Justin Verlander, Max Sherzer, Anibal Sanchez, and Rick Porcello remains to be seen, but most would agree that it puts the Athletics in a better position to compete.

The acquisition of Samardzija and Hammel puts the futures of Jesse Chavez, Tommy Milone, and Brad Mills into question. Mills is most likely the odd man out, with Milone and/or Chavez likely being delegated to the long deliver role, replacing Jeff Francis, who was recently delegated for assignment.

Jeff Samardzija has a disappointing 2-7 record with the Chicago Cubs, despite having a 2.83 ERA and 103 K’s. Hammel’s stat line is even more impressive, with an 8-5 record despite playing for the hapless Cubs and a 2.98 ERA and 104 strikeouts.

What do you think? Are these the pieces the Oakland A’s need to take their game to the next level and finally get past Detroit – or whoever they face in the playoffs? Will Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel make the difference?